I just saw something this morning that amused me. Both ESAS and Falcon 9 were formally announced within about a week or two of each other (in September 2005). Four and a half years later, a fully-orbital Falcon 9 is on the pad close to being ready for its first test flight, while Ares-I has spent an order of magnitude more and has barely “passed” PDR, with an a first launch scheduled for sometime in the 2015-2019 timeframe depending on whose numbers you pick. In spite of the ignorant hype that Ares-I was a “moon rocket”, both rockets are in fact designed to place capsules into LEO. While Falcon 9’s first flight will likely be not quite flawless (possibly dramatically so), they’re still years ahead of Ares-I, in spite of starting at about the same time, and having tons less funding.
Just food for thought.